Oh Crumbs! Redbridge council spent £10,000 on biscuits and tea

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 February 2017

McVitie's Pciture: PA Archive/PA Images/Dave Thompson

McVitie's Pciture: PA Archive/PA Images/Dave Thompson

PA Archive/PA Images/Dave Thompson

Redbridge Council has spent more than £10,000 on biscuits and tea in the last year, despite recently launching a healthy eating drive.

In a Freedom of Information (FoI) request seen by the Recorder, the council revealed it spent £10,600 in the financial year of 2016 at cabinet, committee and Local Forum meetings.

A council spokesman confirmed that they spent £2,650 per quarter on sugary snacks and drinks.

“Basic meeting refreshments are provided at committee meetings for members, the public, press and officers who often attend late evening meetings,” he said.

“The costs also includes refreshments that are provided at public Local Forum meetings across the borough.

“They usually consist of tea, coffee, water and biscuits.”

Despite this a council employee revealed that other council staff have to provide their own tea, coffee and milk during the day as “part of a cost cutting drive”.

The worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “To hear that the council spends ten grand at meetings really takes the biscuit.”

Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said the amount spent on refreshments has actually decreased in the last six years and has gone down from “tens of thousands to 10,000”.

“We have reduced the cost a hell of a lot more in the last six years,” he said.

“We have cut sandwiches and we are going in the right direction.

“It sounds outrageous but when you dig deeper, these people have come straight from work and not had time to get anything – the last thing you want to do is sit in a four hour meeting without anything.”

Cllr Athwal insists that the introduction of fruit is happening and he has personally gone “sugar free” at meetings.

However at a time when the council is promoting healthy eating and tackling sugary drinks in schools, critics have argued they should not be providing biscuits.

Cllr Athwal added: “In school we are setting habits of a life time, but councillors are already stuck in their habits”.

Cabinet member for health and social care, Cllr Mark Santos said the council is looking forward to the future and making sure there are healthy options.

“Surely we should be looking into the chronic under funding of the health and social care sector and how Redbridge does not get its fair share of funding. This affects residents more than biscuits at a council meeting.”

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